Conundrum by C.S. Lakin
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Conundrum by C.S. Lakin
I can't make a claim to reading a lot of Psychological Thrillers; though I am a fan of Suspense Thrillers my latest foray into the genre was Castles: A Fictional Memoir of a Girl with Scissors by Benjamin X. Wretlind and that one took me way out of my comfort zone. Thankfully this one didn't drag me too far down any tough roads. There were some mighty strange places though.
It seems a good Psychological Thriller is done in first person. That way you get a real look at the psyche of the main character or POV character. I really enjoyed the book and read it straight through and I'm giving it high points, but I'm going to be honest about some of things that bothered me.
The story takes place in 1986 and though there is some relevance to some science technology of that time; other than the that; and the lack of computer Internet; and cell phone; I think this could have taken place anytime. Still the lack of cell phones figures strongly. A lot of the suspense in the story is revolving around connections with people who might have answers to questions. People don't want to leave messages they want face to face and things like that; and having to reach some home base to talk on the phone helps extend things out. At some point it gets tiring that no one wants to give information over the phone though everyone has information. Because of no Internet the hero has to use the library and micro-fiche a lot. Something that is still prevalent today especially for people doing genealogy.
Another device in the story is the cryptic letter. People leave ambiguous letters behind in their life and though it has good information it's difficult to pinpoint the truth and relevance of some of the information. Relationships and inability to communicate figure heavily in the story almost to a point of annoyance.
There are a lot of pop references and some events are mentioned all to help pinpoint that this is really 1986 and they add a small flavoring to the whole plot. Along with memories and speculation that run through the main character's head we have lyrics to songs.
And just like in Vertigo we have the Psychological weakness of a character who freezes and panics under certain conditions. This case its enclose elevators. All of this come through really well for the first half of the story. But we reach a point where the main device of the Psychological Thriller begins to feel as though it's being overused. That's the place where the main character takes every story and clue she gets and analyzes it :and because it all relates to her father's death after mysteriously contracting leukemia, she seems to go over and over the same road with occasional new twists and turns, until I reached a place where my mind shut down when I hit the passages and I would have to go back and re-read a whole section as I realized I'd gone gently half the way to sleep. That might be just me and you have to read this to get a sense of what I'm saying. To be fair though it is this part of her mind that helps envelop the psychological part of this thriller where every clue sends her through the whole series of speculations and often dredges up memories of things that happened throughout her life that she's chose to forget,[and the eventual reason for the lapses in memories in some cases are found in these memories] so it's a necessary growing process that contains a level of tedium.
Despite that bit of sleepy tone this is a well put together story and for the most part has a good pace to it. The writing is excellent in regards to mechanics and grammar though in the e-book there's a weird format problem that split words funny by separating the b eginning letter and the en d letter of a word by one extra space.
Conundrum in this case is referring to story puzzles that include this very story. The main character and her brother love solving the stories; and it's her brothers descent into manic depressive fits that might be similar to their father's behavior before his death that lead her to investigate the conundrums in her fathers death. And about three quarters of the way through the story; for those readers who haven't figured it all out; one of the minor characters offers the conundrum of what he saw but did not hear that contains the answer. She goes into her usual round of speculation and remembrance and from there on, for the reader who has it figured out, it's a matter of wondering when our character is going to get though her drama to figure it out.
This is an excellent read and for those who enjoy Psychological Thrillers and Suspense; this should offer something to keep the mind active while trying to unravel the conundrum. And perhaps the largest conundrum is deciding what parts of the whole are the truth.
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